7 Essential Tips on What to Have on Your CD Artwork to Make it Easy to Get on a Radio Playlist

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Getting your CD played on the radio is a traditional tool to promote your music and increase awareness about you and what you’re about. And while never easy, its gotten tougher to get considered by a DJ, they get so many CDS- how can yours stand out in the crowd?

The good news is you as an independent musician can increase your odds of airplay with what you include in your artwork. Here are seven ways to do what is within your power to make it easier for a radio program director to say yes.

1. On the traycard, include track names, track numbers AND track times.

The traycard is the part of the CD that shows out the very back of the case. It usually also contains the barcode. You want to have this so that the station can plan a show and know how much time they need to fill. It may be aesthetically unappealing to you to have all the text on there and if you’re not going for radio play, great, go for looks. But if you are hoping to get on the radio – put them in there.

2. Ensure track times are accurate on the traycard.

Nothing is more fun that an carefully planned show whose last song ends a minute sooner (or runs a minute longer) than the time printed on the traycard. Not really. You want the DJ to trust that you’ll make them look good. The timings should be at least within a few seconds so just check them against the track sheet your mastering or recording studio provided.

3. Note any FCC language issues on the traycard.

This means if you use “colorful metaphors” that most parents would not like their children to hear so often, state it on the insert and the disc. You might want to note this on the traycard as opposed to the front insert. One-sheets can get lost and fines required by the FCC are huge. Remember you’re job is to  make it easy for the person at the station.

4. Artist or Band’s name and album title on the CD face

In case the disc gets separated from the case, this will help get them back together. And if they don’t, someone still knows who you are and how to find you. I know the disc artwork can be so compelling and mysterious. Perhaps it is, but you might want to thinkg – Is it worth not getting the airplay you also want?

5. CD Insert should have information about artist, songs, performance credits, etc

You want to again make it easy for the host to be able to access any information that they think might be of interest to their audience.

6. Make it easy to tell the difference between the ARTIST and the ALBUM TITLE.

Sometimes its clear to you – but for someone unfamiliar with your music or group, it can be tricky. Make it easy.

7. Make it legible for a normal human being – not just a 17 year old.

Its best to assume that radio DJs have worse eyesight than you do. If you’re 17 and can spot an owl, don’t assume and make your type on the insert so small that it takes a magnifying glass to dechipher.


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Creating your cd project begins with the first step, all you need to do is contact someone who knows how to do what you want to do. Talk with someone who can take you from where you are to the moment you stand on stage at your CD release party and when you begin to mail our your CDs to radio stations. Go to http://www.cdduplicationaustin.com to take that first step and fill out the contact request.

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